Lately, there’s been this one phrase replaying in my mind that I can’t quite get out of my head. “El que quiere marrones aguanta tirones.”
The literal translation is “if you want curls, you have to stand the hair-pulling” or in simpler terms beauty is pain.
During my childhood years
I grew up hearing my mother and aunts saying this phrase as a hot straightener ran down my hair. I used to cry when they tried to untangle my hair. The untamable frizz became my first source of insecurity. I hated it. Thankfully someone came up with Brazilian blowouts. So for a few years, I just pumped my head full of chemicals to fit into some crazy beauty standard. And that is just scratching the surface.
I remember the pain and the crying as they waxed my legs, plucked my eyebrows, or gave me deep-skin cleanses that left my face red and puffy. Eventually, I even underwent a nose job and started dieting and over-exercising.
“El que quiere marrones aguanta tirones.”
I remember the feeling of the sore muscles as I walked up and down the stairs after a leg day. The pain was a measure of how good my workout had been. “El que quiere marrones aguanta tirones.”
I truly believed that if I looked a certain way, more people would like me. I allowed it to define my worth.
None of this brings happiness and it has taken its toll on my body over the past few months. I feel cold all the time and my tailbone protrudes so much that it’s hard to lay on my side. All of my pants are too big, the veins on my arms stick out and I get leg cramps. I find it hard to realize that this is the body that endured so much over the years.
I stand in front of a reflection of a broken girl. A girl who doesn’t want to have to endure more pain to become the standard definition of beautiful. It makes me want to scream into the mirror to see if the voice of my eating disorder will quiet down. The noise of the world outside selling me diets and fitness trends, and my own inner critic, are super loud sometimes.
This is the type of beauty that tells you to squeeze into spaces and clothes that are not meant for you. To starve yourself or earn your food. It’s also the same culture that doesn’t challenge the belief that people of all sizes and genders can suffer as victims of this construct.
A society that is constantly advertising that if you want to be beautiful, you must earn it through suffering.
This type of thinking is where many eating disorders start. It’s also the reason why perfection is the biggest enemy of recovery.
My heart aches when I think of it. Girls with beautiful curls who are convinced to straighten their hair. Women who subject themselves to horrific diets, trying to be the same as the body they see in a magazine. People who end up on life support after overtraining and undereating. Human beings who feel worthless and ashamed for their behaviors around food because we truly believe that if society views us as beautiful we will be worthy.
A new definition of beauty
Recovery is only possible if we seek new definitions of beauty. A definition that is inclusive, constructive, diverse, and that celebrates our differences rather than shaming us for them.
Recovery is a journey with ups and downs. Inevitably we are still tied to the ideas we were raised with. We must start by not putting ourselves through pain and suffering, but rather heal through self-love and assertion of our worth. Letting go of the idea that beauty is suffering, and that you have to do all of these extreme, painful things to be beautiful.
I acknowledge that my vision of beauty has been conditioned by those around me, and pledge to no longer believe that to be beautiful you have to stick through the pain. To anyone out there struggling: you are beautiful and worthy, your recovery is possible, don’t put yourself through more pain.